Holistic Guitar: Ear Essentials
4.3 (2 ratings)
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Holistic Guitar: Ear Essentials

Learn how and why music works, while transforming your musical understanding into an intuitive "body knowledge"
4.3 (2 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
23 students enrolled
Created by Will Edwards
Last updated 4/2017
Current price: $10 Original price: $65 Discount: 85% off
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30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 3 hours on-demand video
  • 78 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Clearly understand chords and harmony.
  • Understand how Harmony and Melody are related via chord tones.
  • Unlock the connection between simple rhythm and a great groove!
  • Learn how to use your ears to accurately and quickly understand music, learning songs faster by ear.
  • Dissect the most common chord progressions used in hit songs.
  • Use harmony, melody and rhythm to play the 12 bar blues (and hundreds of popular songs)!
View Curriculum
  • Before taking this course, you should have a guitar and be able to play a few basic chords

This course combines in-depth examinations of basic harmony, melody and rhythm as they relate to playing (and understanding) music by ear.

Develop your musicianship beyond academics and technique by learning how philosophy, intuition and emotion play an essential role in your development as a musician and artist.

  • Learn intuitively from graphically enhanced lectures
  • Understand how to “groove”
  • Recognize “tension” and “resolution” in music
  • Discover and understand common chord progressions
  • Understand more than the average text book or private lesson will ever be able to teach.

There’s more to music than just academics and technique.

Whether you’re a beginner, a regular performer or aspiring song-writer, this course finally offers a refreshing and engaging perspective that goes beyond the scales and chords into the realm of expression and a holistic understanding of music - an understanding you can build on and grow with for the rest of your life!

Content and Overview

This course is ideal for beginner and intermediate guitarists (and any musician who understand how to play guitar). I’ve thoughtfully prepared 38 lectures - all clear and concise explanations of focused, useful topics that will teach you a holistic approach to music. You’ll begin with in-depth lectures that cover all of the essential information you need to know about harmony and melody. Most lectures include activities and exercises designed to apply the topics we discuss, so that you can internalize your lessons on a much more intuitive level.

Throughout the course, you’ll learn about the power of your intellect to learn new material, while also leveraging the flexibility of your intuition to understand concepts like “groove”,“tension” and “resolution”.

The later sections of the course explain Rhythm, The Blues and Ear Training. You’ll be able to play along, following chord diagrams, guitar tab and music notation. You’ll understand why and how hit songs contain similar chords and you’ll learn how to use your ears to learn new music quickly and accurately.

As a performing musician and private instructor with over 12 years of professional experience, my methods not only explain how music fundamentals work logically, but also demonstrate the interconnected relationships that are essential to understand if you want to play music by ear and from the heart.

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is for beginner and intermediate guitarists who want a well-rounded and practical musical foundation.
  • This course is ideal for beginner and intermediate guitarists who want practical methods for understanding and learning songs by ear.
  • This course is not intended for advanced guitarists who already understand music theory, rhythm and can play by ear.
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Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 38 Lectures Collapse All 38 Lectures 02:48:10
Introduction to the Course
5 Lectures 25:59

Welcome to this unique course! The materials and lectures in this program represent a different approach to music education - a departure from basic scales and rudiments - that will show students how to transform exercises into a deep understanding of music and its inner workings. In this lecture students learn how and why they need to develop musical intellect as well as musical intuition in order to become the musician they want to be!

Preview 06:40

Let's determine the most valuable applications for our intellect when it comes to learning, understanding and ultimately playing beautiful music!

Intellectual Practice

Next, we explaine the most valuable applications for our intuition when it comes to learning, understanding and ultimately playing beautiful music! We’ll also discuss how creative, musical breakthroughs can be realized.

Intuitive Practice

Supplemental content and online office hours make this course a uniquely powerful experience. So, let's get on the same page about how to get the most out of the prepared materials as well as general Udemy best practices.

How to Succeed

Each student should use this quiz-style PDF to record important details from this section of the course. It will serve as a valuable aid to refer to later when you have spontaneous questions part way through the course.

Initial Self-Assessment
Understanding Harmony
9 Lectures 37:40

This section of the course is focused on getting you up to speed on what harmony is and how it works. We'll introduce topics including triads, qualities, inversions, 7ths, extensions voice leading, chord progressions, rootless chords and upper structures.

Preview 06:16

This lecture clearly explains how consonance (pleasing harmony) and dissonance (tense harmony) can be achieved using important harmonic "recipes" containing intervals. This is a prerequesite for making informed harmonic choices as a musician (selecting chord qualities such as major and minor).

Know-How: Triads

This lecture explains why and how different triads have different emotional effects on listeners. For example, you will understand why major chords sound upbeat and triumphant, while minor chords sound melancholy and tentative.

Preview 02:22

7th chords contribute in an essential texture to all the music that we listen to and extensions (e.g. 9ths, 13ths, etc.) are simple add even more variety to your musical 'color pallette'. Let's master these harmonic concepts and explore their musical potential.

Know-How: 7th Chords & Extensions

Discover and begin using harmonic inversions (rearranged triads) in order to bring your chord comprehension up to a more advanced level. This lecture also provides hands-on examples.


Voice leading represents a thousand years of wisdom about how to connect chords together in order to create powerful, compelling harmonic progressions.

*A Deeper Look: Voice Leading

In this lecture, we'll leverage our new understanding of harmony and examine what Led Zeppelin, Muddy Waters and Duke Ellington have in common. Students will encounter many other familiar harmonic progressions that will unlock literally hundreds of hit songs.

Know-How: Chord Progressions

This lecture will introduce you to a phenomenon known as rootless chords. Rootless chords operate in unique and powerful ways and students will develop a solid grasp of how they work and how they are used.

*A Deeper Look: Rootless Chords

This lecture concludes our exploration of harmonic phenomenon with an examination of upper structures. Upper structures are often at the heart of music history's most interesting and curious chord progressions. We'll discuss essential concepts and complete a simple exercise that will explain this amazing phenomenon.

*A Deeper Look: Upper Structures

Test your understanding with 10 questions taken straight from the lectures and supplemental downloads in Section 2.

Quiz #1: Understanding Harmony
10 questions
Understanding Melody
5 Lectures 29:10

Let's begin by outlining a simple, organized collection of melodic building blocks (including scales, keys, sharps, flats, enharmonic equivalents and chord tones). This will help you get up to speed on what melody is and how it works.

Melody Explained

This lecture focuses on how scales are related to musical "keys". We review G major and G minor scales and we will also talk about how to use simple scale-building formulas to quickly determin a scale in any of the 12 keys.

Skill #1: Scales & Keys

Sharps and flats are an important part of music, but their function isn't necessarily self-explanatory. This lecture will explain what they are and how they actually save us from complications in writing out scales and music.

Sharps & Flats

As we learned in the last lecture, sharps and flats are often 2 ways of identifying the same exact pitch. This is called enharmonic equivalents and we discuss it in this important theory lecture.

*A Deeper Look: Enharmonic Equivalents

This lecture will show students how to combine what they've learned about harmony and melody in order to understand and compose great melodies, using common sense methods based on chord tones.

Preview 12:00

Quiz #2
9 questions
Bonus: 12 Bar Blues
4 Lectures 19:33

This lecture begins to paint the big picture of a holistic music approach using elements of harmony and melody that we learned about in the first 2 sections. We extend our repertoire to include barre chords and blues formula variations. We also begin to understand how the theme music from the course is composed!

12 Bar Blues Explained

We expose the bluesiest sounding chord of them all - the dominant chord. This chord contains a unique set of properties that make it essential to the blues and, in fact, all western music!

Know-How: Dominants & The Blues

This lecture offers you, the student, a chance to leverage all the topics of the course in order to start playing the blues using the most essential of scales - the pentatonic scale (in 5 easy patterns).

Know-How: Pentatonics

Let's expand our discussion of scales with a focus on using our artistic discretion to mix minor and major contexts. Audio examples and clear explanations make it easy to understand this unexpected and undeniable juxtaposition.

Preview 05:25

Quiz #3
6 questions
Understanding Groove: Strumming & Rhythm
7 Lectures 25:06

Exercises help you develop a clear intellectual understanding of how rhythm is written down and counted. Keeping time is an essential musical skill - correct rhythm is MUCH more important than correct pitch.

Keeping Time Explained

Keeping time helped to explain the fundamentals of musical time and this lecture will look at individual note values (a.k.a. beat values) in more depth.

Know-How: Note Values

Our intuitive understanding of musical rhythm is perhaps more essential than our intellectual understanding of musical rhythm. This lecture explores how groove and pulse help us connect with the “feel” or "groove" of a piece of music.

Know-How: Feel/Groove

We define the simplest kind of strumming styles on guitar, using familiar and basic note values. Students learn what is the best way to get started with good strumming intuition.

Hands On Practice: Simple Strumming

Armed with the basic strumming techniques from the last lecture, its time to improve things by looking at subdividing musical time to create more intricate (and more intuitive) rhythms.

Hands On Practice: Advanced Strumming

This lecture examines the tendency for compelling music to often mixe simple and complex rhythmic elements. Too much of one or the other is not as effective. So, in this lecture, we learn to mix our simple and advanced strumming styles to great effect.

Hands On Practice: Mixed Strumming

Finally, this section requires a summary of facts about rhythm as well as an exercise based on the topics we’ve covered. The supplemental files introduce triplets (rhythms based on counts of 3) while reinforcing everything else we’ve learned.

*A Deeper Look: Triplets

Quiz #4
10 questions
Bonus: Playing By Ear
6 Lectures 22:12

This section will help you develop your intuition about how to put names to the pitches and music that you hear with your ears. This is called ear training and we kick it off in this lecture with a discussion of consonance and dissonance.

Know-How: Consonance and Dissonance

Next, we discuss consonance and dissonance as it relates to specific intervals within the major scale. I’ve carefully prepared intervallic audio examples that you will want to hear first hand so that you can begin to build a “relationship” with each interval.

*A Deeper Look: More on Intervals

Earlier in the course you discovered that chords have different emotional qualities (major, minor, etc.). This lecture examines how you can identify chords that you hear by relating them to their unique emotional fingerprint - specifically the characteristics of resolution, suspension and tension.

Preview 03:53

This is the first of 3 lectures in which we identify the first of 3 new chord characteristics - resolution. We will discuss and listen to examples while building a rock-solid understanding of this essential and common sonic characteristic.

Hands On Practice: Hearing Resolution

Next, we move on to the second of 3 lectures focusing on our 3 newest chord characteristics - tension. We will discuss and listen to examples while building an intuitive sensitivity to what tension sounds like in a harmonic context.

Hands On Practice: Hearing Tension

Finally, we examine the third of 3 new chord characteristics - suspension. This is used commonly in popular music and you have undoubtedly heard it before. Our examination will help you to “hear” and identify this important characteristic quickly and reliably.

Hands On Practice: Hearing Suspension

Quiz #5
4 questions
Conclusion to the Course
2 Lectures 08:30

Having completed this course, you are now equipped with not only a comprehensive intellectual understanding of how music works, but you have also developed an intuitive “body knowledge” of these same facts (e.g. muscle-memory and ear training). This lecture aims to consolidate your new musical intuition by wrapping up and reviewing what you’ve learned.

Preview 04:27

This lecture is a bonus that will give you tips for further self-guided learning. I’ll share my strategies and ideas for how best to continue developing your intellect and intuition side-by-side.

Next Steps
About the Instructor
Will Edwards
4.3 Average rating
2 Reviews
24 Students
2 Courses
Music Instructor at Udemy

I've am a full-time professional musician who has broad teaching experience with guitar & bass students in rock, blues, jazz and many other genres. I've devoted over 24 years to my own well-rounded musical education, focusing on a mastery of all aspects of modern music - from practice routines to ear training; from live performance to composition and music theory.

I specialize in bridging the gap between music and technology, focusing on using modern tools to demonstrate all aspects of music. I'm extremely comfortable using web-based tools and mobile devices in education, performance and composition. I even program my own online tools in order to customize my students' learning experience.

I currently maintain a full calendar of private one-on-one students. I offer clear, accessible lessons for beginners and experts alike.